*Bulldust is fine, talc-like dirt that covers the surfaces of many roads in the Australian Outback, making them look deceptively smooth, hiding washouts and large holes.
c/- Augie March
It’s closing in on midnight on the I-5 to San Francisco. Like the Greyhounds, we stop at Coalinga. Pick from the fast food giants (eerily neon but welcomed for their offer of a McDonalds-clean toilet), and drink soda between frequencies.
In the stale air-con scent of this rented American car on this straight American road, we play your songs from the tinny speakers of our phones; learn Australia in your lyrics:
It’s the red earth, blue sky, and ghost gums. The endless coastlines, the erasing surf and the sometimes cities. Australia: playlisted and soundtracked.
Kurri Kurri (32°49’2.5″S, 151°28’58.8″E)
The rose-scented talc of my grandmother is now indistinguishable from the coppery wet meat smell of sink-soaked pans post-Sunday roast. En-route from Sydney, Dad points out the flood markers and I think of the place like some risen Atlantis. It is not.
Korumburra (38°26″S, 145°49″E)
Rolling hills, dog-obsessed alpacas and a hearth. Those suburb-bound know little of hearths and the hearts within.
Melbourne (37°48’49″S, 144°57’47″E)
I’ll live here one day. Tell strangers that if Sydney is the pretty, popular girl in high school, Melbourne’s the girl who reads Proust. On a wet evening we walk, catch strains of found music and act like we’re cool enough to be here.
Uluru (25°20’42?”S, 131°02’10″E)
Our red, beating heart. The light is crisper here somehow. The colours brighter. It’s like love.
Sydney (33°51’35.9″S, 151°12’40″E)
The best view of Sydney is not from the top of Harbour Bridge, or the observation deck of Sydney Tower. It’s into a bowl of noodles in Cabramatta, the drive into the city over Gladesville Bridge, when Marrickville becomes Enmore.
There’s a song of yours for each of these destinations. Whether walking through the heady scent of a Marrakesh souk, atop a crusty quilt in a seedy Vegas hotel room, or on the roof of a boat sailing down the Mekong, I travel to a home imagined. Via you.
It’s a false reading sometimes; a parallax error or objects appearing closer when looking from the rear view. And home, well, says Dorothy: there’s no place like it.
There is no such place.
Oh yes I have seen it too,
Just a little different from how you do:
A river winding blue among the dunes and a marble bed;
A sun that doesn’t set but settles.
There is no such place, Augie March
Co-ordinates: 36°08′23″N, 120°21′37″W
Author: Gaya Avery